New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins playoffs series preview
The New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins playoff series should be a good one.
During their four regular-season contests, each game game became testier than the last. It culminated in the final match up of the year on April 7, a 3-0 shutout win at Madison Square Garden.
In that game, recently acquired Tyler Motte was reaching for a puck in a prone position when Penguins forward Anthony Angello threw a hard hip check into his shoulder. The Rangers fourth line forward and penalty killer was injured and is out indefinitely.
The hit set off a scrum and led to both teams coming together at center ice when the game ended. It’s not something that’s likely to go away when the series begins on Tuesday.
“He knew Motte didn’t see him,” Gerard Gallant said. “He was in a vulnerable position and I think [Angello] took advantage of it. I thought (originally) it was a blow to the head, but it was the back part of the shoulder that got him. I still didn’t like it.”
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins Series Schedule
|GM 1: Tuesday, 5/3 @NYR||7PM ET||(MSG, ESPN, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|GM 2: Thursday, 5/5 @NYR||7PM ET||(MSG, TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|GM 3: Saturday, 5/7 @PIT||7PM ET||(MSG, TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|GM 4: Monday, 5/9 @PIT||7PM ET||(MSG, ESPN, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)|
|GM 5: Wednesday, 5/11 @NYR||TBD||TBA|
|GM 6: Friday, 5/13 @PIT||TBD||TBA|
|GM 7: Sunday, 5/14 @NYR||TBD||TBA|
Rangers vs Penguins Season Recap
NYR: 52-24-6, 110 points (2nd place in Metro)
PIT: 46-25-11, 103 points (3rd place in Metro)
Feb. 26 at PIT (L, 1-0): Evgeni Malkin scores lone goal on PP.
Mar. 25 vs. PIT (W, 5-1): Chris Kreider scores twice (one shorthanded) and adds an assist.
Mar. 29 at PIT (W, 3-2): Chris Kreider PPG early in the third holds up, Igor Shesterkin stops 24 of 26 shots.
Apr. 7 vs. PIT (W, 3-0): Igor Shesterkin stops all 30 shots, Frank Vatrano’s goal 24 seconds into second period is the game-winner.
NYR win season series 3-1 (11 GF – 4 GA)
Rangers vs Penguins Series Matchup
The New York Rangers come into this series with a 3.05 goals per game average on the season. The Pittsburgh Penguins are ranked slightly higher with a 3.28 goals per game average.
There’s no denying that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are elite when it comes to scoring, and both can do it when it counts in the playoffs. That being said, the Rangers boast the most offensively gifted player in the series with Artemi Panarin.
Let’s take a look at each team’s top five offensive players (minimum 40 games played)
|Artemi Panarin||1.28||Sidney Crosby||1.22|
|Mika Zibanejad||1.00||Jake Guentzel||1.11|
|Chirs Kreider||0.95||Evgeni Malkin||1.02|
|Adam Fox||0.95||Bryan Rust||0.97|
|Andrew Copp||0.74||Kris Letang||0.87|
Verdict: Slight Edge Penguins
The New York Rangers have become one of the top defensive teams starting around March. A really good time to tighten things up in your own zone.
On the season, the Blueshirts finished second in goals allowed at 2.49. However, the Penguins were stingy too finishing with 2.71 goals allowed per game, good for fifth in the NHL. The Rangers also allow less shots per game than the Penguins but not by much (30.8 to 31.4).
In the end, the Rangers coming on strong and being the more physical of the two teams gives them the nod. Plus the Blueshirts’ top four of Adam Fox/Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba/K’Andre Miller are as good as any in the NHL.
Verdict: Edge Rangers
Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin is considered the clear favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this season. The 26 year-old posted a 36-13-4 record to lead the team to the playoffs and home-ice advantage in round one. His .935 SV% and 2.07 GAA top the league. Against the Penguins, he recorded a .960 SV% and a 1.01 GAA to go 3-1 in four games.
Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry is nursing an injury that had him in a walking boot. If he isn’t able to go Pittsburgh will turn to Casey DeSmith, a capable backup. Jarry on the year is clearly the number one with a 34-18-6 record, .919 SV% and a 2.42 GAA. This season versus the Rangers he was 1-3 with a .906 SV% and a 2.61 GAA.
Verdict: Big Edge Rangers
When it comes to special teams the New York Rangers were excellent this season. Not only did they score 55 power play goals but they also added 8 shorthanded goals, while only giving up 2.
|TEAM||PP%||PP GF||PK%||SH GF||SH GA|
Verdict: Edge Rangers
Rangers vs Penguins Prediction
New York dominated the regular season series against Pittsburgh (3-1) and there’s no reason to think it won’t carry over into the playoffs. The injury to Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry is going to play a big factor in the outcome. If Igor Shesterkin continues his Vezina worthy play this one could be over quick.
Prediction: Rangers beat Penguins in 5
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